Decision : Closed after initial enquiries
Decision date : 22 Feb 2018
The Ombudsman's final decision:
Summary: We cannot investigate Mrs M’s complaint about how the Council dealt with a complaint about the accuracy of a report its children services team produced for a Court.
- The complainant, whom I shall call Mrs M, says the Council failed to reply properly to a complaint she made about its reports given to a Court.
The Ombudsman’s role and powers
- The Local Government Act 1974 sets out our powers but also imposes restrictions on what we can investigate. We cannot investigate a complaint about the start of court action or what happened in court. (Local Government Act 1974, Schedule 5/5A, paragraph 1/3, as amended)
- We cannot investigate the consequences of a decision if we cannot investigate the decision itself. (R (on the application of ER) v CLAE and London Borough of Hillingdon  EWCA Civ 1407 and R (M) –v- CLAE  EWHC 2847)
How I considered this complaint
- I considered the information Mrs M provided with her complaint which included the Council’s replies to that complaint. Mrs M had an opportunity to comment on a draft version of this decision.
What I found
- Mrs M has five children. She says she was involved in court proceedings to decide the children’s care arrangements from December 2014 to February 2016. She says the Council produced two reports for the Court about the children’s lives and their welfare. These are called section seven reports (s7). The Council produced them because the Court ordered it to.
- Following the conclusion of Court proceedings, Mrs M obtained the information the Council held on the case. She then complained in April 2017 about the accuracy of the s7 reports. The Council provided detailed replies but then refused to correspond further.
- Mrs M complains about the way the Council complied with its own complaints policy.
- We have no power to investigate the content of s7 reports. This means we also have no power to investigate how the Council dealt with a complaint about those reports.
- We cannot investigate this complaint. This is because it is about Court reports and how the Council replied to a complaint about those reports.
Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman